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This little piggy went through the winery

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Technology used in oil fields finds useful benefit among California's top wineries.

This little piggy slid through the pipes and helped the winery reduce water use and energy costs.

Not exactly the beginning of a good childhood fairy tale, but one that apparently has the people at Sonoma Wine Company smiling.

P.I.G is an acronym for pipeline inspection gauge. Pigging has been around for years as tool used in the petroleum industry to clean and inspect pipes. In the context of the winery’s operations, pigging is the use of sponge balls to move wine and clean transfer lines at the winery.

According to a YouTube video produced by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) that features Sonoma Wine Company’s use of pigs, the practice is being used by a number of California wineries. PG&E is a major power provider in California.

The goal is to help conserve water in the process of cleaning out transfer lines. Sonoma Wine Company reports a 10-15 percent drop in water used since employing the use of the small sponge balls. They have also managed to enhance sanitation, minimize wine dilution and save labor time needed to clean the transfer lines.

Simple tools such as this make every bit of difference, particularly in California where business margins are already very tight, utility costs are very high and the supply of water is quite short. It also provides good marketing opportunities for companies trying to capitalize on practices that they can promote as part of their environmental sustainability efforts.

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